On Tuesday 5th February, suppliers and members gathered at TUCO HQ in Manchester to hear from key industry speakers about palm oil, covering topics such as; the oils and fats market, what palm oil is and why we use it, how to take part in a certified supply chain, and an NGO view on palm oil.
Sustainability is a key focus for TUCO and we're working hard to ensure we're supporting the use of sustainable palm oil. The forum was a unique opportunity to ensure our members and suppliers are clued up on the latest movements in sustainable palm oil, and a key event to showcase the support we're offering in our members' journeys to sustainability.
The insightful day was filmed and we're delighted to share the videos with you below. You can also view them on our YouTube channel here.
We heard from:
Kevin McAlister, Customer Innovation Manager for AAK
Kevin has worked in the oils and fats industry for several major international manufacturers for 28 years in a variety of roles encompassing laboratory work, quality and food safety management systems and technical management, along with innovation. He has a broad knowledge of processing and modification techniques of oils and fats, along with their applications in food, feed and other non-food areas. Kevin currently works as a Customer Innovation Manager for AAK, a Global Oils and Fats manufacturer and one of the founding members of the RSPO. Hear from Kevin below:
Download Kevin's presentation here.
Jonathan Gorman, Tehnical Director at Efeca
Jonathan is an environmentalist and sustainability professional with many years’ experience leading the development and delivery of supply chain sustainability programmes within a global FMCG retailer across a range of areas including forest commodities (including soya, palm oil, Brazilian beef and wood and paper), marine sustainability (including seafood but also marine health issues such as ocean plastics) and other environmental areas including sustainable packaging
Since July 2017 Jonathan has been working for Efeca, a small natural resources consultancy, providing strategic and technical support on the sustainable sourcing of agricultural and forest commodities to the private and public sector
A core part of Jonathan’s work in the last year has been to help develop and establish the cross-industry UK Roundtable on Sustainable Soya with funding provided through the UK government. Hear from Jonathan below:
Download Jonathan's presentation here.
Judith has worked within the palm oil industry for more than 10 years. With previous experience in food service, marketing, communication and the food manufacturing sector, she has an in-depth knowledge in the field of sustainability and has led marketing and CSR functions at a global edible oils business level. Having worked for one of the founding members of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Judith has unrivalled experience, breadth and depth of knowledge of the sustainable palm oil supply chain.
Judith was instrumental in creating the forum. Hear from Judith below:
Download Judith's presentation here.
Michelle Desilets, Executive Director of the Orangutan Land Trust
Michelle has been working alongside Lone Droscher Nielsen in orangutan conservation for over 15 years. In 1994, Michelle took her first trip to Borneo, as a volunteer-tourist at the Tanjung Puting National Park. In the years that followed, she continued to visit Borneo as a volunteer for as long as 4 months at a time. In 1997, Michelle and fellow volunteer Lone, sought the advice of Dr Willie Smits to create a new project in Central Kalimantan to deal with the swelling numbers of orphaned orangutans. Dr Smits agreed to help, and with the financial backing of the Gibbon Foundation and Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Indonesia, the Nyaru Menteng Orangutan Reintroduction Project was born. It received its first dozen orangutans in 1999. Now the centre has over 600 orangutans in its care, and is regarded as perhaps the finest primate rehabilitation project in the world.
Michelle founded the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation UK to support the work of Lone as well as the other activities of BOS in Indonesia. As Executive Director of BOS UK, Michelle initiated a number of international campaigns to help orangutans, such as campaigns to end the illegal trade of orangutans and to repatriate known smuggled orangutans, as well as the campaign for sustainable palm oil. She now sits on several working groups in the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
In 2005, Michelle gave up her career in education to devote her efforts full time to these campaigns, as well as the never-ending search for the funds needed to continue the efforts in the field. Hear from Michelle below:
Download Michelle's presentation here.
Andy Green, Responsibly Sourced Development Manager at Exova BM TRADA
Andy works extensively with clients and group offices on developing responsible sourcing platforms and meeting the growing number of sustainability targets. Predominantly focussing on the food, home, personal care and Animal Feed industries, Andy has been instrumental in supporting the uptake of certified sustainable palm oil through the RSPO certification scheme. He has been central to the development of Exova BM TRADA's Responsibly Sourced Scheme and is passionate about finding an effective route to demonstrate sustainability on a range of products, whilst limiting the resource costs of doing so. Andy remains committed to the aims of sustainablity standards, the benefits of independent certification and the need to ensure a harmonised approach to audit requirements.
Hear from Andy below:
Download Andy's presentation here.
Catherine Barton, Field Conservation Manager Chester Zoo
Catherine joined Chester Zoo's Field Programmes team in 2008, her current role as Field Conservation Manager is heavily focused around managing partnerships with field projects in Borneo and Sumatra and engaging with stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain, from other NGOs to field partners and local businesses. She chairs the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European equivalent (EAZA) palm oil working group, working with zoos and other organisations nationally and internationally to find solutions to unsustainable palm oil.
Cat leads the Chester Zoo field programmes team's involvement in conservation campaigns, working closely with other departments on behaviour and social change initiatives including the Palm Oil Challenge campaign. Hear from Cat below:
Download Cat's presentation here.
Paula Martindale, Senior Operations Catering Manager at the University of Chester
Paula is the Senior Operations Catering Manager for Commercial Services at the University of Chester and since she started 21 years ago, she has seen a growing need to ensure that the service they provide reduces impact on the environment. As a result, the catering department continually reviews the ethical resourcing of products. Paula also has an interest sustainable palm oil through her son who has been researching the effects of deforestation in the Sumatran rainforest as part of his PHD thesis, he has been able to show her first hand the impact unsustainable palm oil production can have on the environment.
The University of Chester has collaborated with Chester Zoo who have been working on making Chester the first (unsustainable) Palm Oil free city. In June 2017, the university became a Palm Oil Champion through the project. This included auditing their supply chain and making changes to their own products produced in their onsite bakery. The catering service constantly reviews their activities to ensure environmental impact is reduced and to meet the sustainable mission statement of the university.
Download Paula's presentation here.
Question and Answer session
Do you know a phenomenal school cook? Or a volunteer chef who puts their all into feeding their community? Perhaps you know someone who can magic up a meal in a prison or a hospital, but who rarely receives recognition for their hard work?
The BBC are looking for the cooks who are often the hardest working people in the food industry, but who are also the least likely to receive national recognition. For this reason it’s important the judges get to hear about the real heroes, the inspirational people serving delicious and healthy food in a public setting. Nominations close at midnight on Monday 18 February 2019. The finalists will be visited by judges Jeanette Orrey (a previous winner of this Award) and Paula McIntyre, with their stories featured on Radio 4’s The Food Programme.
Nominate now at bbc.co.uk/foodawards
Previous winners include prison caterer Al Crisci who has now opened the Clink restaurant, encouraging inmates to pursue a career in food; Jane Sen of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre, who has helped reform the NHS’ approach to care and nutrition and Dee Woods, a volunteer chef at the Granville Community Kitchen brining the community together in one of London’s most deprived estates.
National Tea Day has partnered with leading mental health charity Mind to bring people together over tea and raise awareness around the benefits of sharing a cup of tea with friends or family to talk about what’s on their mind.
The partnership will coincide with the official National Tea Day which marks the Queen’s birthday on the 21st April, 2019 and will see 10% of the gate receipts from FesTeaVal, the family friendly tea festival on the 13th & 14th of April at Tobacco Docks, East London be donated to Mind.
With one in four suffering from a mental health problem in the UK; and depression and loneliness on the rise, the partnership is aimed to encourage people to put down their phones and speak to those you know over a cup of tea, supporting better mental health.
Marco Geraghty, Director at National Tea Day, said: “We are delighted to be able to make a financial contribution to support Mind's supportive work and enable the charity to provide support services to those most in need. In today’s busy society research has highlighted depression and loneliness is on the rise but many suffer in silence. This campaign aims to encourage the millions of tea drinkers in the UK to reach out to those close to them and allow those to talk about what is on their mind over a cup of tea.
The campaign messaging highlighting the importance of meeting up over a tea is also going to be implemented through a series of London Underground adverts as well as shared through national and social media channels, in a marketing campaign specifically designed to target young people.
Rebecca Hastings, Head of Corporate Partnerships at Mind, said:“We’re really grateful to National Tea Day for choosing to support Mind. It’s fantastic to see people get together over a cuppa to combat loneliness and talk about whatever is on their mind.
“Every penny raised will fund our vital work including Mind’s Infoline, advice services and the campaigning work we do to secure a better deal for the one in four of us who experience a mental health problem every year.”
Loneliness isn’t a mental health problem in itself, but it is linked to mental health – feeling lonely can contribute to developing things like anxiety and depression, while people living with mental health problems are more likely to feel lonely.
Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind, said: “If your feelings of loneliness are having a negative impact on your mental health, talk to your GP. There are also lots of things you can do to help you feel less lonely, such as volunteering, starting a hobby or exercising. If you find social contact difficult, try a supportive online community like Mind’s Elefriends, or visit Mind’s info pages on loneliness to find more information and support available.”
National Tea Day is celebrated each year on the 21st of April and is the official day in the U.K. to celebrate our love of tea. 2019 sees the launch of the ‘Reignite Your Passion’ campaign encouraging people to get excited about sampling great teas again and to opt for a healthy tea which can help you feel better.
For more information visit www.nationalteaday.co.uk
TUCO has launched the results of its most recent Benchmarking Against the High Street report. The research, completed by The Litmus Partnership, enables members to track their prices on a quarterly basis against that of the high street. The report, the latest of which covers the period Oct - Dec 2018, shows analysis by category, outlet, product, region and university demographic. The latest report saw a decrease of 2.73% in the High Street prices.
To view the latest report click here.
You are still able to submit your annual pricing if you complete the form below. You will only need to complete the survey once, if you have annual pricing. However, you are able to remove products and add-on any that you may additionally sell later in the year, meaning you can add prices at any time via the same tool.
We hope you find the report useful in showing how high street prices are fluctuating compared to your own.
The FSA (Food Standards Agency) have launched seasonal communications for Valentine’s Day, as an extension of the #easytoASK campaign which took place last summer. Targeting young people living with food allergies and intolerances, they share tips to raise awareness of safe behaviours for the celebration – including steps for booking a restaurant if eating out; or planning an allergy-safe meal, if eating in.
Prominent consumer charities Allergy UK and Anaphylaxis Campaign will be delivering this campaign in partnership with the FSA, and they'll also be working alongside celebrity influencer Jack Fowler (who has a severe nut allergy) to highlight the importance of being confident and speaking out if you live with an allergy/intolerance. A range of partners, such as local authorities, trade bodies and retailers, will share our messages through their own channels, during this week of activity.
Tips for cooking an allergy-friendly Valentine’s meal
Cooking for a partner with food allergy can seem like a daunting task, especially on a romantic occasion like Valentine’s Day, when you want everything to be special and you really don’t want to get it wrong! However, asking a few simple questions and doing some forward planning can help ensure a sweet and safe Valentine meal.
Tip 1: Don’t feel embarrassed about asking your date what they can / cannot eat. People will allergies and intolerances are usually quite clued up on what is safe for them (and will be pleased you asked!).
Tip 2: Allergies cannot be ‘cooked out’, no matter how hard you try.
Tip 3: Check ingredients labels for hidden allergens, like tahini (sesame paste) in hummus, fish in sauces, nuts in cooking oil and milk in gravy mixes.
Tip 4: It’s not only food you need to be careful about. Don’t forget to look out for sulphites in wine if you are planning on serving some.
Tip 5: Prevent cross-contamination. Clean work surfaces and equipment thoroughly to remove traces of anything you might have previously cooked. Using hot and soapy water will do the trick nicely.
Tip 6: Be careful with garnishes, sauces, toppings and dressings that might introduce new allergens into a safe dish – like adding chopped nuts or an egg glaze over pastry.
Tip 7: If your date is allergic to something, simply taking it off their plate isn’t enough. A tiny trace of the allergen (food they must avoid) can be enough to cause an allergic reaction.
Tip 8: There are often good substitutes for allergens in most food shops. Ask your date for suggestions of what to buy, where to find it and what they really enjoy eating.
Tip 9: Enjoy the creative challenge. Rather than seeing your date’s allergy as a limitation, view it as an opportunity to try something new. Great ingredients and the care you have taking in planning a suitable meal your date can enjoy is true romance!
Tip 10: Feeling romantic? Kissing is one way to cause an allergic reaction. Allergenic protein can remain in the mouth for around four hours after eating the food. If you’re dating someone with an allergy, try avoiding the food which makes them ill before your date.
And remember: there is no cure for food allergies – the only way for people to manage the condition is to avoid the food that makes them ill.
Visit https://www.food.gov.uk/safety-hygiene/food-allergy-and-intolerance for more information.
The TUCO Academy need you!
We'd like to invite TUCO members to an Academy Steering Group meeting on Wednesday 27 February at TUCO HQ in Manchester to feed into the future of the TUCO Academy.
This is a great opportunity to influence the strategy and direction of the Academy, and work with us to really get a handle on what learning and development courses you need.
- Are you getting the most out of your teams?
- Are you utilising the unique learning and development tools available to you as a TUCO member?
- What are your key concerns when it comes to staff learning and development?
- Did you know our courses can come to you?
- Do you have specific topics you'd like to see us offer?
All of these questions, and more, will be raised at the Steering Group meeting on 27 February.
The session will run from 11am - 3pm, however you are able to attend for part of the meeting if you wish - please specify this below. Lunch will be provided.
Please fill in the form below to register your interest, and we look forward to working with you to shape the future of the Academy.
Four major UK caterers and the University of West London have begun 2019 by joining the Peas Please initiative, playing their part in making veg more accessible and appealing for UK consumers. Independent think tank the Food Foundation estimates that for every three meals eaten out and on-the-go, we consume an average of half a portion of veg1, but these caterers join a further ten catering organisations who made pledges in 2017 and 2018.
Compass Group UK & Ireland is the largest food and support services organisation in the UK, and has pledged to increase their procurement volumes of vegetables across all sectors of its business by 15% by 2020. They will also be reformulating recipes to include more vegetable content wherever possible, and will be launching a plant forward promotion encouraging and supporting all customers to eat more vegetables.
As a schools specialist, Caterlink will be helping to increase children’s vegetable intake across the UK. They have pledged to achieve a 10% average increase in portions of veg served in their recipes compared to July 2017 - July 2019. They will also redesign key recipes to include more veg across their menu plans, and will promote vegetables through the 'Added Benefits' sessions in schools, as well as collaborating with campaigns such as Veg Power.
Olive Catering has committed to increase vegetable servings by 10%, as well as promoting seasonal vegetables with recipe ideas and implementing veg smoothie bars in contracts. Mini-mart stands will be made available in offices with salad and veg give aways as well as nutritional information. A “meat free day” will be introduced, using a menu that promotes seasonal vegetables.
Vertas will also be playing its part in increasing veg consumption in the UK, and has pledged to develop its menus to ensure that a minimum six varieties of vegetables and salads are available each week in customers’ meal experiences. Extra vegetables will be added to some of their dishes. (including our ‘Life on the Veg’ and ‘Pulse’ menu specials) and they will offer fresh homemade vegetable soup as a daily special during the winter months in high schools.
The University of West London will be educating the chefs of tomorrow by providing courses on healthy and sustainable food, with a particular focus on why vegetables are an important part of the solution. They will also increase servings of vegetables by 10% across three of its restaurants and canteens.
The new veg-promoting ‘Eat Them To Defeat Them’ campaign was devised by adam&eveDDB for ITV and Veg Power. The advert takes a bold new approach to promoting veg, engaging kids and parents in a new way and looking to reinvigorate how vegetables are viewed and consumed. In a 60-second film children, are cast as the heroes in movie scenario with a horde of vegetables emerging “from underground to take over the world”. The ad then depicts the kids chomping through a whole selection of veg in order to “eat them to defeat them”. The campaign, which launched in Coronation Street on Friday 25th January, is funded by the biggest ever coalition of supermarkets: Aldi, Asda, Coop, Iceland, Lidl, Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Ocado, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose along with food brand Birds Eye. Supermarkets are also supporting the campaign in-store and online.
Peas Please is coordinated by partner organisations in each of the four UK nations, and aims to bring together businesses and brands from across the food system to secure commitments to improve the availability, affordability and quality of the veg offer in shops, schools, fast-food restaurants and beyond. Peas Please has delivered 4.8 million additional portions of veg in its first year.
Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation, said: “Peas Please shows that it is possible to make it easier for everyone to eat more veg but it needs concerted leadership from progressive businesses. We’ve made great progress in the last eight months but the pressure is now on to change pledges into portions to ensure genuine impact on the nation’s health.”
Nicky Martin, Head of Nutrition, Compass Group UK & Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the veg pledge. Compass Group UK & Ireland is committed to providing our customers with a balanced diet, and part of that is ensuring that our food offers contain vegetables. Introducing more plant-based meals, not only supports our consumers’ desire for healthier choices, but also has a positive environmental impact too. We have worked hard with our executive chefs to re-engineer recipes to make them higher in vegetable content.”
Megan Waring, Head of Nutrition at Caterlink Ltd, said: “At Caterlink the central focus of our menus is making sure that children have healthy, balanced and tasty meals. It is great to be able to put some targets around this, and to focus on getting more veg into kids’ lunches.”
Caroline Thompson-Barr, Head of Operations at Vertas, said: "We’ve already made great strides in reducing sugar and salt across our education menus. For younger students we’re using vegetables like beetroot and parsnip as natural sweeteners, for teenagers we have ‘Life on the Veg’ and ‘Pulse’ dishes, offering healthier, more sustainable options. Signing up to this national initiative was an obvious decision for us as encouraging children and young people to eat more vegetables makes perfect sense. We are looking forward to serving even more tasty veg across the business".
Peter Cross, Senior Lecturer, University of West London, said: "At the University of West London we want to make sustainability a core part of the courses for our Culinary Arts and Food Business Management students; combining this with making an actual pledge to serve more veg on site is a great way to walk the walk too."
Social media has changed the way we eat and drink with consumers expecting every dish and beverage to be #Instaworthy. As part of its identification of future beverage trends, Kerry Foodservice has commissioned proprietary research to understand the evolution of beverage trends globally. The study, launched at the Sirha 2019 tradeshow today, shows that social sharing is now impacting the progression of beverage trends through menus, and these insights can help the industry identify future beverage trends.
The research, conducted by Initiative on behalf of Kerry Foodservice, includes a study of key beverage influencers and analysis of trending keywords. The research reveals the trends which are expected to influence the beverage market in the coming year. Furthermore, it demonstrates that not only is the beverage market highly competitive, but consumers are also increasingly educated, interested and adventurous, driving a need for operators to constantly innovate and create stand-out products.
The coffee market is constantly evolving and in 2010 as coffee fans looked for new ways to enjoy their caffeine hit, the espresso tonic began to gain traction originating in Australia, where many beverage trends begin. Since then the trend has moved westward and has seen a peak of activity in the last twelve months. Research shows 30% of coffee consumers now seek chilled coffee drinks as an alternative to carbonated soft drinks. Online searches for Espresso Tonic have been steadily growing over recent years and nearly 9,000 social posts have been shared showing the growth in popularity of the beverage, at a time when a significant number of consumers are searching for an alternative to soft drinks.
With many consumers looking to cut back their caffeine consumption and 25% of consumers interested in caffeine-free alternatives a trend has emerged of coffee alternatives such as beetroot latte, matcha latte, and turmeric latte. With 33% of UK coffee consumers interested in purchasing hot drinks with health-boosting benefits these caffeine-free alternatives tap into the growing trend for natural ingredients with added health benefits. Analysis of online keywords shows Matcha Latte has seen significant and sustained growth since originating in Singapore with a steady increase in searches for Beetroot, Turmeric and Charcoal Latte also, all of which originated in Australia. As well as great taste, consumers are now looking for foods and beverages that looks good too - #colourfullattes such as beetroot, matcha, turmeric and charcoal have seen over 200,000 Instagram posts worldwide in the last 12 months, and this has grown by 24% in the last 6 months.
Healthier lifestyles is a growing trend which sees no sign of slowing down and aspirations for healthy lifestyles are driving consumers towards more natural ingredients. Plant-based diets have become increasingly popular with the trend for veganism quadrupling in the 5 years between 2012 and 2017. Research shows 29% of UK adults also showed concerns for the high levels of sugar in bottled ready-to-drink cold teas; botanical beverages can help provide a healthier alternative to sugar-laden iced-teas whilst delivering the nutrients and functional benefits of plant-based ingredients. Analysis of Google Trends shows that while interest in botanical beverages is growing it is much slower than other beverage trends.
Karl Buiks, VP of Marketing, Foodservice & Strategic Planning, Kerry Europe & Russia comments, “Our research and analysis of social sharing has shown a number of elements are impacting the progression of beverage trends. In an era where consumers are constantly sharing their content with the world it is important that products look as good as they taste, so the visual appeal of products is now more important than ever. Consumers also expect added benefits from their drinks, they want beverages that deliver benefits beyond hydration, and caffeine or alcohol-free alternatives. Beverage is becoming an increasingly integral part of all foodservice outlets and Kerry’s in-depth understanding of beverage trends means we have the expertise to work with customers on solutions that cater to a variety of lifestyles and need-states.”
As social sharing is the driving force behind many beverage trends, analysis of influencers and keywords can help predict these trends as they progress across geographic regions. Addressing this ever-changing market is an opportunity but also a challenge in the foodservice industry. Kerry Foodservice offers solutions for foodservice operators across channels, leading with insights to help customers create innovative, stand-out products that respond to changing consumer demands in the fast-paced food and beverage market.
Visit the Kerry Foodservice at Sirha hub for more information on Kerry’s market insights.
 Mintel, Coffee UK, September 2018
 Mintel Coffee Shops UK December 2018
 Mintel, Tea and Other Hot Drinks, UK, July 2018
Fitness entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne is backing a Mary’s Meals campaign which sees £1 doubled to become £2!
Before 1 March 2019 public donations to the charity’s Double The Love campaign are being matched by the UK government, up to £2 million, to transform the lives of hungry children in Zambia.
Duncan is a long-time supporter of the school feeding charity and has visited projects in Malawi and Romania. Following the catastrophic Haiti earthquake in 2010, he travelled to Port-au-Prince to meet some of the children who were relying on the food provided by Mary’s Meals.
Duncan said: “When I first came across Mary’s Meals, they had just started feeding 200 children in Malawi, and now they reach more than 1.3 million children all around the world. I am amazed at how much they can do with even the smallest donation and having seen their work in action, I know how life-changing the meals are for the children, their families and communities.
“With the match-funding from the UK government, every donation right now will go even further – in fact, a donation of just £13.90, when doubled by the government, will feed two hungry children for a whole year. It really is a great time to get involved and do something fantastic.”
As well as sharing Double The Love news with his 750,000 Twitter followers, Duncan is promoting the campaign to thousands of new and existing members of Bannatyne Health Clubs and spas across the UK.
Mary’s Meals has been working in Zambia since 2014 and is now reaching more than 92,000 children there every school day.
The country has high rates of malnutrition, poverty and food insecurity, with more than 360,000 primary school age children out of education. Many can be found working in fields, begging or scavenging through rubbish dumps to survive, while those who do attend classes are often so hungry they don’t have the energy to concentrate and learn.
By providing one good meal every day in school, Mary’s Meals brings hungry children to the classroom and makes it possible for them to attend school regularly, so they can gain an all-important education and look with hope towards a brighter future.
Executive Director of Mary's Meals UK, Daniel Adams said: “Duncan has been a great friend to Mary’s Meals for many years and like so many people, he is inspired by the simplicity of our vision that every child receives one daily meal in their place of education.
“The work of Mary’s Meals is only possible because of the kindness of people of all ages and from all walks of life. Right now, with match funding from the UK government, we have this wonderful opportunity to transform the lives of many, many more hungry children in Zambia and around the world with the gift of food and education.
“Even the smallest gift will go a long way to bring joy to children and help them look with hope towards a brighter future.”
For further information about the Double The Love campaign and to find out how to get involved, please visit www.marysmeals.org.uk
- 39% of allergy/intolerance sufferers who have bought /used free-from products would like to see a UK-wide allergen labelling system on free-from products.
- 48% of Brits say that they, or someone in their household, avoid at least one food/ingredient - although only 20% do so due to an allergy or intolerance.
- UK free-from market valued at £837 million in 2018, growing by 133% since 2013.
Allergen food labels are a source of confusion for today’s Brits according to latest research from Mintel, as only 37% of consumers agree that it is easy to identify which allergens a product is free from by its label.
While pre-packaged goods are legally required to highlight on-pack the presence of any allergens, almost half (48%) of Brits are unsure whether or not allergen labels are clear, and a further 15% actively disagree that this is the case.
Meanwhile, a UK-wide allergen labelling system on free-from product packaging appeals to 29% of those who have bought/used free-from products, a figure which rises to 39% of those users who avoid foods/ingredients because of an allergy or intolerance.
Estimated to be worth £837 million in 2018, the UK free-from market has seen stellar growth over 2013-18 with sales growing by 133% over this time period.
Emma Clifford, Associate Director of Food and Drink at Mintel, said:
“Potential changes to allergen labelling has received a lot of high profile media coverage recently, with speculation that the Government is planning to introduce new changes following the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret baguette. Given the perceived lack of clarity and the dangerous health implications that ambiguous allergen labelling can have on consumers, there is a real need for companies to make the presence of allergens very obvious on labelling.
“While current regulations require allergens to be listed in bold on the ingredients list, many companies choose to highlight certain free-from credentials on the front of packaging as well. At the moment this is not regulated and as such, there is no uniformity between the labelling used, which can fuel confusion among consumers, particularly given the huge amount of other product information on packaging. There is strong demand for a UK-wide labelling system for allergens which would unify the way in which companies communicate this information on packaging.”
Allergy or intolerance is the least likely reason for avoidance
According to Mintel, just under half (48%) of consumers say that they, or someone in their household, avoid at least one food/ingredient, with 16-24-year-olds (61%) the most likely age group to report household avoidance of foods/ingredients. Overall, there has been no significant change in the share of UK consumers that avoid certain foods or ingredients over the past year.
Perhaps surprisingly, only 20% of consumers (or other members of their household) avoid certain ingredients due to an allergy or intolerance, which is on a par with those who do so as part of a healthy lifestyle (22%). Of those who have eaten/drunk free-from foods, 28% do not avoid any foods/ingredients.
Meanwhile, three in ten (30%) Brits avoid certain foods/ingredients for other reasons (eg ethical, vegetarian) rising to 38% of under-25s and 41% of females in this age group.
While dairy is the most commonly avoided food/ingredient (17%), avoidance of dairy has remained unchanged over the last three years. Soya (16%), fish or shellfish (16%), red meat (15%) and lactose (15%) make up the top five foods/ingredients which Brits avoid.
“Allergies or intolerances aren’t the main reason that consumers are avoiding certain foods or ingredients. Healthy lifestyles and ethical and environmental concerns are also boosting the appeal of these products, with young consumers in particular most likely to be driven by these factors.
“The fact that as many as a quarter of free-from purchasers do not avoid any foods/ingredients reflects that the pool of free-from users is far wider than just those who fully avoid certain ingredients, either due to allergies/intolerances or for other reasons.”
Gluten-free is most commonly bought free-from food
Gluten-free products remain the nation’s most popular type of free-from food with 27% of consumers having purchased or eaten these over six months, despite only 12% of consumers reporting that they or somebody else in their household avoid gluten.
Meanwhile, a quarter (23%) of consumers have purchased dairy substitutes, while 19% have bought dairy-free foods.
A quarter (26%) of consumers say free-from diets are good for digestive health, but 44% say that it is hard to know whether they have health benefits for those without an allergy or intolerance. A further 40% worry that following a free-from diet puts you at risk of missing out on certain nutrients.
“The idea that following a free-from diet could potentially put people at risk of missing out on certain nutrients is a concern for a significant number of consumers. Gluten-free products carrying nutrient fortification claims are not widespread in the UK market, suggesting a missed opportunity. While highlighting the absence of allergens is vital, spotlighting nutritional credentials is also important for free-from products, particularly to appeal to those opting for these products as part of a healthy lifestyle," concludes Emma.